Music subscription services face a difficult balancing act between price and value

Music is unquestionably important to most people’s lives, regardless of where they are in the world. Although not everyone spends money on recorded music or buys tickets to a gig or festival, a very high percentage of people listen to music on the radio at home or in their car. Restaurants, shops, and bars use music to create a particular ambience to encourage people to either relax or feel enlivened to improve their customers’ experience.

Music is essential and important
Just how important music is to consumers was one of the many questions included in a consumer survey conducted by Music & Copyright publisher Ovum in July. Over a three-week period, 15,000+ consumers across 15 countries were asked a number of questions about their media use. In terms of importance, music was considered essential by 42% of respondents, and important by a further 43%.

Although listening to music was less important than browsing the Internet and reading the news, it was considered more essential that interacting on social media and watching TV. Only 16% of respondents said listening to music was unimportant.

Comparing the survey findings with the current state of the recorded-music industry suggests a large proportion of consumers’ interest in listening is not being satisfied by paid-for services. Annual sales of recorded music have been falling for more than 10 years and 2014 is expected to add one more to the total number of consecutive years of annual contraction.

How much will people pay?
Ovum asked the 15,000+ respondents what was the maximum monthly fee they would be willing to pay to subscribe to a music streaming service. Only 10% said they would be happy to pay the current going rate or above – 7% were willing to pay more than £5 and up to £10, with a further 3% prepared to pay more than £10. The highest share of respondents that agreed to pay something opted for up to £2. More than half of those surveyed said they would not pay anything.

Maximum monthly fee willing to pay to subscribe to a music streaming service
Source: Ovum

There were differences in the findings by region and country, but the low share of respondents that said they would pay up to £10 must be of concern to proponents of the subscription model. The per-stream payout generated by a premium service user is usually much higher than for a user of the advertising-funded tier and so if the results of the Ovum survey are indicative of consumer sentiment towards the value of music subscriptions, the benefits of streaming, in terms of royalty payments at least, will continue to cause disquiet amongst artists.

If you want to know more about Music & Copyright or the Ovum survey then follow the below links.

Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.